Tottenham 3-3 Arsenal: Shhhh… shhhhh… shhhhh…


Not the game, the result.  From a neutral’s standpoint yesterday’s match was one of the best games of the season because it had everything; slack defending from Tottenham, slack defending from Arsenal, more slack defending from Tottenham, a long range shot for a goal, a nutmeg for a goal, an offside goal that wasn’t actually offside, a penalty, and Tottenham fans audibly singing “sit down you pedophile.”

From an Arsenal standpoint however, the game was a bit shit and again defense was the problem but I don’t know what anyone expects at this point. Statistically Arsenal have the fourth best defense in the League but realistically it’s a shambles and is undone with the simplest of tactics. But what, really, can Arsene and Arsenal do right now to fix it? The transfer windows are closed so talk of buying some 16 foot tall Hill Orc to come in and head balls away is silly. We live and die with the personnel we have. Also, it’s not like Arsene Wenger could have drilled the team to play better defense between the Sunday match against Liverpool and yesterday’s match. Nor should we expect that Arsenal are suddenly going to be some defensive stalwarts this coming Sunday.

Credit must be given to Harry Redknapp whose entire genius is in keeping the game as simple as possible. It’s well known that Redknapp’s team talks are simply “oi, you, mark ‘im on corners, you mark ‘im, and everyone else ‘ave a good game, ‘alright? Cheers.” But I think he must have thrown in “oh, and one more fing, try and get the ball up to Crouchie as much as possible. ‘Aright? That’ll be lovely, be a dear and put the kettle on?”

After the first leg at the Emirates, Harry must have had a look at the tape and saw that Kaboul scored against 8 Arsenal defenders and thought “hang on a minute, Arsenal aren’t very good in the air” because whereas the last time Spurs tried to play through the middle of the park more, this time they bypassed the midfield entirely and pounded the ball forward.

by Guardian Chalkboards

As you can see from the chalkboard, Arsenal were forced into eight more clearances from the last time the two teams met and even with Djourou at the back, who was 10 of 15 for all aerial challenges, Arsenal were put under enormous pressure from high balls in to Crouch. Clearances, though, are just half the story and aerial tackles show us another small problem:

by Guardian Chalkboards

Note that in the Arsenal defensive half, they lost the same number of duels as the first time the two met: seven in each game. But it’s the Duels won where Arsenal actually played better before last night:

by Guardian Chalkboards

Arsenal only won three aerial challenges in the Tottenham half last night and if you look at the challenges lost category you’ll see that Robin van Persie was beaten 10 of 11 times in the air on offense. In the previous leg, Chamakh played in the lone striker role and he was very good in providing a big presence up front.

Which begs the question, why doesn’t Arsene play him along side Robin? It’s obvious that van Persie is much more comfortable in the Bergkamp role and it’s equally obvious that Chamakh is a good hold up player. I suspect the answer lies in Fabregas. Cesc is playing where I think Robin should be and Wenger seems loathe to ask the skipper to play deeper in the actual midfield.

But even as I say that, I have to go back to what I said about defending at the top of the page and admit that it’s highly unlikely that Arsenal could play with any change to formation. They have been playing a 4-3-3 with Robin up front and Cesc in the hole all season, and while yes, these are seasoned professionals, it’s a bit hard to simply switch now. Especially since Chamakh and Robin haven’t played together much.

Compounding the problem, Arsene brought on Bendtner who is a better hold up player than Robin and promptly stuck him on the right wing to play crosses in to no one. He also brought on Arshavin, who apart from his two tackles, did his best to impersonate a statue for 10 minutes. You could see that both Nasri and Walcott were annoyed with the changes and Samir in particular took his time coming off.

I know that I’m relatively new to football but I’m really struggling to see what Arsene Wenger is doing tactically with this team. Personally, it looks like he’s appeasing players (Robin and Cesc) rather than playing the best tactics. I’m not even saying that Arsenal should change to a 4-4-2 but just that maybe, given the poor season he’s had offensively, Cesc Fabregas should be playing a bit deeper and Robin behind either Chamakh or Bendtner. If their egos could take it, that is.

But again, I go back up to the top and say, what can we do apart from complain? The team is pretty much set both in terms of tactics and personnel.  I know that Gooners are eagerly awaiting the return of “The Verminator” who will come in and smash footballs into atom sized pieces because he’s a superhero but I suspect that even his return will not help that much. The reality is that Arsenal were up 3-1 for a minute or two before Tottenham scored from a long range shot and yes it was a good shot but the clearance was poor and poor clearances have been a theme for 32 games now.

I don’t expect that to change, just like I don’t expect teams to come out and play complicated tactics against us. It’s either two banks of four and catch Arsenal on the break or long diagonals in to big men up front. Take your pick, either one will do.

And now, Arsenal have a 16 game unbeaten run and yet there they are in 3rd place on the actual League table and third place (by goal difference) on the Mini-League table:

And I go back to the central question “what can we do?” As a team, there isn’t much Wenger can do now or at least it seems that way. We as supporters could complain about the fact that Robin van Persie was onside but do you think it’s a sound tactic to try to win every game 4-3 while hoping to get all the right calls? I don’t.

What I’m going to do for the rest of the season is sit back and watch. Arsenal have 6 games left, the title race is wide open now that Chelsea are in the hunt, and all we can do is watch in wonder as the strangest season I have ever seen unfolds.

Just think about it. Arsenal are actually still in the title hunt owing to the big games that are left between the top teams. But just as actually, Arsenal are in a 4th place relegation fight, because of all the games left to go between all the top teams.

It’s going to be a strange run-in, and there are more twists left to come, I’m sure. Try to enjoy it, as much as you can until something can actually be done this Summer.


46 thoughts on “Tottenham 3-3 Arsenal: Shhhh… shhhhh… shhhhh…

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1Limestonegunner

    Tim, excellent analysis and I agree with the remarks about Cesc and RvP positionally and the futility of Bendtner on the right. I think Nasri was having a great game and could have moved to the right to allow Chamakh in the center and RvP on the left. Or, as you say, play something like a 442 or 4231 with Chamakh ahead and RvP behind and Cesc further back. Central midfield defending wasn’t the most crucial thing, so Cesc could have played there without compromising us defensively–everything was going to the wings for crosses or long balls over midfield from Spurs.

    I don’t know if we would start games this way, as you point out, it is a bit of a shift this late in the season, but in the latter stages of the last 5 or 6 games our shape goes out the window anyway with helter skelter throwing attackers forward in desperation that I don’t think it is a worry how well Chamakh and RvP combine. It would be better than Bendtner on the wing.

    I do think we can do something about this right now and playing Cesc further back is a good idea to try away at Bolton as it may help us do better against MU.

  2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

    I guess I don’t say this very often to your articles Tim, but spot on. I agree with everything you said (except that there are 5 games left :p). Your analysis of the game is as always top notch, and your suggestion as to what to do for the rest of the season is correct too in my view. Let’s just see what happens. Wenger’s tactics are confusing, but surely he must have a good reason for it? Anyway, there’s no way to know, so let’s just watch the football, and cheer the Arsenal all the way. COYG!!!

  3. Vote -1 Vote +1critic

    I really don’t understand arsene’s thinking. I was also thinking on the similar lines to play chamakh with RVP and for god’s sake playing bendtner in central forward not on wings.

    WHat was he thinking while substituting, walcott and nasri wud have been perfect for last 10-12 min.

    Our opinion doesn’t matter and well…story is to be continued i guess…

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Brahmabull

      Yes – I don’t understand those last two substitutions. We have no mid-week games, we have no need to rest players, and Nasri and Walcott seemed to be functioning fine.

      I wonder how much personality management is at the heart of some of these substitutions. RvP might complain about being shifted to the wing in favour of Chamahk, Bendtner whines about playing time so he sacrifices Walcott just so Nicky can get his shoes dirty.

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1Brahmabull

    If I could do one thing the rest of the way out, it would be reversion to the 4-4-2. That is the way forward for us in my opinion. And a box midfield four to maximize the talents we have and what they do best;


    I think Clichy, Arshavin, Rosicky, Denilson, Bendtner, Squillaci and Diaby are all out the door this summer, so why bother playing them any further.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

      @Brahmabull, I agree with Rosicky and Denilson being on their way out. Maybe Squillaci if we buy a new CB and want to give one of our youngsters a chance. But 7 players axed and having to be replaced? Highly doubt that would happen. Don’t know if that is even desirable actually.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Brahmabull

        I forgot to add in Almunia, he’s got to be history as well.

        8 players out. Yes, I believe that should be done, and no, I don’t believe it will hurt us – how can it? The core remains and then we get a hungrier bunch of reserve players coming back in; Ramsey, Lansbury, Frimprong, Eastmond, Henderson with likely new signings in Sahko, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Hazard. Those eight in exchange for the eight I named – gladly in my books. Gladly.

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1Brahmabull

        Wait a minute – throw in Eboue too, and put down Coquelin for a return. Nine player turn over… what a message that would send.

      3. Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        @Brahmabull, I see what you’re saying. I still think that is too many. Besides. I thought the issue was one of experience. We lose experience with the transfer dealings you just named. Possibly 4 or 5 players out. Any more and I think we’ll have problems. at least initially.

      4. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Brahmabull

        My opinion is that the lack of experience claim is mostly crap. What we lack is leadership, grit and composure under fire.

        Yes, those are things that you may argue generally come with experience. But not necessarily so. Clichy has plenty of experience now, I wouldn’t say he’s a composed personality when we’re under duress. Almunia has more experience than SZCZ – no way would I ever take Almunia over Sneezy at this point. Eboue has loads of experience – but he still bundled over Lucas in the 100th minute of a game. Shit, might as well let Coquelin do that, at least he can blame his youth.

        We need a new mindset. For that we need to clear out the players who’ve been just going along for the ride, and get new players who are willing to push the team.

      5. Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        @Brahmabull, It is a bit of a myth that we lack experience, and I agree that more than anything it’s a change of mentality that we need. But I still think we don’t need that many changes. We probably need a big squad anyway with the injuries we have. So shipping out that many might prove disadvantageous. The only advantage is as you say that it sends a message. I’d be very suprised if changes took place on that scale.

      6. Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        @Brahmabull, Tim, Yeah I agreed with Brahmabull that it is a bit of a myth with regards to experience. I just don’t think getting rid of so many players in one go would benefit us, especially with the signings he mentioned. To integrate so many new, relatively inexperienced players in this team might be a bit much. I don’t think we need wholesale changes. A few out and some additions.

      7. Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        @Brahmabull, Lets see. GK Almunia out. Somebody be No1 or experienced backup?(5-15m)

        Defense: Clichy out. 1 established LB required.(10m) Botelho might add cover, but I don’t think we should go in with just Gibbs and Botelho. I discount Traore.
        Squillaci out. Sakho in? (15m) Bartley as cover
        Eboue out. RB in (5m)

        Midfield: Denilson, Diaby, Rosicky, Arshavin out
        Lansbury, Coquelin, Henderson/Frimpong (maybe) and Ramsey (like a new signing) I still think we’ll need a CM and another to replace Arshavin (30 m combined)

        Forward: Bendtner out. A new striker in (15-20m)

        In my view it’ll cost us at least 80 million to buy good replacements for all those players even with reserves coming in. Of course we’ll recoup some money from selling them, but how much? I think a goalscorer is a priority and should happen anyway. And either another holding midfielder, or a CB, and a GK.

        I think 3-4 signings is all we’ll see, and some reserves coming in, with maybe 4-5 players leaving.

      8. Vote -1 Vote +1Josip

        @Brahmabull, Think rationally, you are all in la-la-land if you think that many changes and replacements are coing in.

        Almunia will get moved on, but a new keeper? Don’t see it happening, it’ll be Szczesny, Fab and Mannone next season.

        Clichy may get shipped out, which will mean a direct replacement coming in. Traore will get sold.

        Squillaci isn’t going anywhere. And there won’t be any change in our CB line-up other than Bartley coming in as back-up.

        Eboue probably will stay unless he decides he wants more playing time.

        In midfield? Denilson should probably be moved on, whether that happens is another matter. Diaby? Wenger will keep him in the squad, I guarantee it. Rosicky will most likely see out his contract with us unless he demands a move for more playing time. Lansbury, Frimpong and Ramsey will all move up into the 1st team squad. Henderson and Eastmond go on loan. If Coquelin comes into the squad it’ll be at right back.

        Arshavin is a tough decision, and I don’t think we’ll see any change in the forward line unless he does go.

        Additionally, if Nasri doesn’t sign a new contract he may be sold to recoup the transfer fee.

        In summary, (and more likely than what you all want and seem to ridiculously expect):


        Forward (Wenger loves buying a striker)
        (Winger if Nasri goes)

    2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      Arshavin is done. He knows it, Arsene knows it, the team know it, and the crowd know it. You can tell from his performance yesterday where he literally made one or two forays forward and one or two tackles and then spent the rest of the time standing around pointing to where he wanted Clichy to play the ball rather than moving into space that he knows he’s done.

      What’s worse is that I don’t think he gives two fucks that he’s on his way out.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        @Tim, Oh well.. I think over the course of the season his contribution has been just about enough to justify a place in next year’s squad. But maybe just about enough, isn’t enough? I’m on the fence on this one. If he stays, he can do a job. If he goes, so be it, just as long as we get in a replacement.

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1Brahmabull

        If I were in charge (fantasy time)and assuming Nasri can be resigned to an extension and we’re not looking to recoup our transfer money before he pulls a Flamini…

        Out – Almunia (GK), Clichy (LB), Traore (LB), Squillaci (CB), Eboue (RB), Diaby (CM), Denilson (DM), Rosicky (RM), Bendtner (F), Arshavin (F), Emmanuel-Thomas (F)

        In – Mannone (GK), Coquelin (RB), Henderson (LM), Frimprong (DM), Ramsey (CM), Miyaichi (RM), Lansbury (RM)

        None of these are starters, but then again none of the Out list are either.

        Obviously then we need a LB, CB and a forward from the market. With Vermalaen coming back, I have no problem passing on a new LB in favour of having Koscielny or even Vermalaen playing LB the odd game behind Gibbs and having Cruise as the emergency back-up.

        In – Sahko (CB), Hazard (F). Done.

        And in my very twisted personal opinion, I would still like Felipe Melo in midfield to rotate with Wilshere and Song.

        We had the biggest roster in the EPL this year, and the third highest payroll (I believe). It didn’t help. I see no problem dropping the roster down, thereby reducing the payroll and using the savings and transfer gains to go out and get two or three quality players. The core stays and hence the continuity.

      3. Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        @Brahmabull, While he has played there in the youth team, Coquelin is no RB. He’s a DM, and I think a good one potentially. Hazard is definitely not a forward. We need a striker I think. A real goalscorer. Anyway, I think you’re having too much fun with this (it is though isn’t it?) We’re not going to see those many changes. There are a lot of variables as to who will go, and which positions will thus be need to filled, but a striker, and perhaps a CB should be priority (Assuming Coquelin is good enough for the DM slot)

  5. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1BergkampsLoveChild

    Excellent article. Terrible impersonation of a londoner when describing ‘arrys team talks!!

  6. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

    For all the talk that our problem is lack of a big aerially dominant centre back, what killed us last night was Tottenham exploiting the space in between the CBs and the full backs.

    Not to mention Corluka and BAE being given all the time and space in the world to pick out their passes which led to VDV’s goal and the penalty. I’m not quite sure how we could leave them with so much space on the halfway line, yet also leave acres of space at the back for the attackers to latch on to those passes.

    I’m Sagna’s biggest fan, but he was badly exposed for the Lennon Penalty.

  7. Vote -1 Vote +1wrightydenhenry

    I agree Tim with the idea of using RVP in the holding role behind Chamakh (is he still alive), he would have more space and greater opportunities to shoot as he would spend less time with his back to goal. I don’t get the Bendtner thing AW was too scared about losing, as the ideal option would be to take off Song and have two of Sami/Theo/Arshavin on the wings and two of RVP/Chamakh/Bendtner in a 4-4-2. Looking back losing 3 home games and all those draws at home has cost us, our away form has still been very good until Sunday we went nearly 3 matches without being able to score at home, doesn’t make sense to me. If we had last year’s home form this year we would be well ahead of United!!

  8. Vote -1 Vote +1Tino

    Tim – I’d like to add that Arsene has played Chamack down the middle and Van Persie in the hole, on at least two occasions. I think Cesc may have been injured. Anyway, it didn’t look pretty, Van Persie and Chamack just didn’t click.

    As far as playing Cesc in deep midfield, that could be interesting. I am not sure if you noticed, but Cesc started in deep midfield when we kicked off the second half, with Diaby in the whole. I guess the problem Wenger has is that noone comes close to doing what Cesc does in the hole.

    i don’t actually think Bedtner is wasted on the right. These players have the freedom to roam…I personally think Bedtner needs to play more intelligently with Sagna. It’s fairly obvious that Sagna will typically cross the ball when he is upfield so Bedtner should be moving infield to meet it.

  9. Vote -1 Vote +1Randy Dutch

    Great article.

    I for one and I’m sure most Gooners agree, wouldn’t find Arsene’s substitutions and formation so baffling if they weren’t the same in EVERY SINGLE GAME; come rain or shine, it’s 4-3-3 and bring on Arshavin and Bendtner for Nasri and Walcott.

    Yesterday’s game didn’t call for it at all. It called for two strikers straight down the middle with some quality and pace to trouble Spurs’ pathetic defense.

    Instead, our pathetic defense was tested, and found wanting: yet again.

    No much left to do, but sit back and see how the rest of the season unfolds now. Can’t help but feel the mentality of this team is all wrong.

  10. Vote -1 Vote +1Randy Dutch

    Great article.

    I for one and I’m sure most Gooners agree, wouldn’t find Arsene’s substitutions and formation so baffling if they weren’t the same in EVERY SINGLE GAME; come rain or shine, it’s 4-3-3 and bring on Arshavin and Bendtner for Nasri and Walcott.

    Yesterday’s game didn’t call for it at all. It called for two strikers straight down the middle with some quality and pace to trouble Spurs’ pathetic defense.

    Instead, our pathetic defense was tested, and found wanting: yet again.

    No much left to do, but sit back and see how the rest of the season unfolds now. Can’t help but feel the mentality of this team is all wrong.

  11. Vote -1 Vote +1Phoenix Gunner

    Great article Tim.

    Would add, if you’re fairly new to football, that where two teams on the mini-table are level on points (e.g. Arsenal, Chelsea, Sp*rs) then the highest place is traditionally given to the team who’s played the least games (in this case, actually Sp*rs), and goal difference is the second filter, if that makes sense… I guess it assumes on average, more than zero points will be won in the games in hand… that’s how it’s done officially anyway

  12. Vote -1 Vote +1goonergirl

    I think you really have something in this piece well done. Chamakh is not the failure people think he is. Give him a go now and play RVP in the DB 10 role.
    I am convinced that Arsenal are wasting Arshavin. He is a clinical finisher and we are not creating chances for him. Bendtner is wasted on the right- he is a goal scorer- believe in him and he will deliver- bring him on- fire him up.

  13. Vote -1 Vote +1william

    good analysis. Most of my opinions have already been spoken somewhere on the innerwebs so i’ll keep it quick. following this Arsenal squad is for crazy people.

  14. Vote -1 Vote

    where is chamakh? he didn’t even make the bench. Hopefully, everything is fine and we’ll see him soon.

  15. Vote -1 Vote +1Jacob

    This season is a little disappointing at best but enjoy it because at least for me the most disappointing thing is when we finish the 38 game and all there is to do is hope for £ 30 players and watch international crap. Have some freaking hope we are the gunners

  16. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Arsenalistul

    Tim, great analysis, it’s becoming routine, congratulations.
    Seems that you love football too much to be “blinded” by some alliance to a club thousand of miles away.

    AW has struck again, the players went out and fought their hearts out, even Diaby :) ), but the manager made sure that the team doesn’t have the necessary personnel to put away a match after a 2 goal lead.

    I see also AW’s favorites, Cesc and Van Persie, and I’d include Wilshere and Song lately too, they can play whatever they want whenever they want. Cesc decided that he is a number 10, and Arsene let him do it because he wants to keep him. Cesc plays this way in preparation for Barca, even though his best performances are when moving the ball up, and bursting through the middle.

    Van Persie was never able to play alone up front, how many headers did he win against the opposing centre halves this season? He is a wonderful number 10, but he is no number 9.

    All this said, they still had a very good chance to win, but AW, in his incomprensible tactical wisdom, replaced Walcott. Theo’s speedy runs between the Spurs defenders created the best chances and 2 goals. He was “on fire” last night, but he is not a favorite, Bendtner came in to play on the right and cross to himself !!!!!!!

    As for the manager, his tantrums on the sideline are way inferior to his take-off attempts in a robe during the cold months.

  17. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1ArseChicago

    Seems as if everyone’s ready for summer, yeah? I’ll admit to not enjoying myself watching football the last few months. Thanks for knocking our car off the road, Phil Dowd.

  18. Vote -1 Vote +1Notoverthehill

    For those with a modicum of intelligence will realise WHY the “Great” Dane is usually put on the wing. Bendtner is on the wing because this gives Bendtner the time to control the ball, as normally Bendtner’s first touch is simply awful. IF Bendtner is in the middle he will win some of the headers but usually to no effect. Bendtner is very useful for following back on the big men as they stroll into the Arsenal penalty area. There is no reason why Bendtner should not do a Henry and bring back those golden days! Can Bendtner trap the ball and move as Henry did?

    The tender violets should hide under the pillows, whilst WE who are battle veterans from many years of UPS n’ DOWNS, enjoy this Manure, Chavski and The Arsenal go for the EPL Championship.

  19. Vote -1 Vote +1Zohaib Ijaz

    people might say i am high or something….but in all seriousness i still feel we might just nick the title from Manure

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

      The old saying would be “mum is the word”. Currently it translates to “numb is the word”.

      Great game if you were a neutral but another lung busting moment of agony if you are an arsenal fan, which I am.

      Things need to change if we are to take the next step forward rather than being relegated to beautiful Bridesmaids who can nver find a partner to complete their union. We have the experience, period. Wilshere, Gibbs, CZ and Koz are the only so called “Rookies”.

      What we lack is leadership and winning mentality, which the current team will never deliver. Three astute signings, more open competition for team slots, hiring of a tactical, defensive and GK coach, release of some dead weight and player accountability can solve the problem.

      Arsene’s actions this summer will determine whether he can adjust to the new order or whether he will stay rooted to his magnificent but flawed principles.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1ArseChicago

      Don’t forget Chelsea, too, from whom the title would also have to be nicked. Problem is, they beat ManU, they help us out, but they help themselves out even more.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Simon Says


        There was a daily express article earlier this week that Arsene might look to Steve Bould for his #2 or his former player Dragan Stojković who won the J-league last year with Arsene’s former club Nagoya Grampus.

        There was a soccernet article from earlier this year that addressed their relationship and Arsene clearly respects him and thinks very highly of him. Even mentioning him as his potential successor.

        “I would love Stojkovic to be my successor, there are a hundred reasons for that,” Wenger told Serbian paper Vecernje Novosti. “Our ideas are the same and we both strive for perfect football. I knew he was going to have teams playing attacking football with many passes.

        “He has done that, showing he will be a great coach.I told him that if he could transmit his football imagination to his players he would fly high.”

        In reference to needing a new GK coach, doesn’t David Seaman work part time with our current lot along with our current GK coach Gerry Peyton. I have read he comes in 2-3 times a week.

  20. Vote -1 Vote +1Notoverthehill

    Tim, you are wrong about Arshavin!!!

    There is a story in Sovsport linking to a West Iberian Sport paper I have never heard of re Arshavin for Ribery??

    Arshavin is not played in his favoured position as that is Cesc’s beat! Arshavin and Berbatov are similar in appearing, indifferent to a lot of the frantic mayhem that most players seem to like to create in the EPL. Mr Wenger and Mr Arshavin have the same view on how the game should be played. End of story I am afraid, Tim.

    We vets with over 50 years of being champs and chumps lok forward to another 1989 title challenge. Enjoy it!!!

  21. Vote -1 Vote +1DF

    Personally I don’t see RvP in the Bergkamp role. He is left footed, like Wilshere, when he needs to dribble and play one-two with his team-mates, but he can shoot with his chocolate legs. RvP is too slow to play quick exchanges in front. Many times he loses the ball when his marker presses hard at him and he cannot keep the ball as well as Nasri, because he does not have that kind of good balance. He cannot head the ball, but neither can Thierry Henry; the point is, he is not as good and quick as Henry to get away from his marker. Henry is always on the move.
    Well, from RvP’s goal per game ratio, he is a good #9, and he + Cesc + Nasri/Walcott is our best chance of a goal, at least for now.

    Besides, Wenger has not taught these kids how to get the second ball or the head down ball. So what is the point of winning headers if these headers are not going our players’ way? Same with putting in crosses–I wonder why Sagna and Clichy cross when very often it just means giving the ball to the defending team. Clichy has learnt and now he does not cross that often…

    I think we have an irrational fantasy about the kids who have not played that often, players like Gibbs, Coquelin, Frimpong…thinking that they maybe another Wilshere. They are not tested, and watching Gibbs this season (the game against what–Ipswich? or Leyton Orient?) we must be kidding they can step up. Even Ramsay cannot after a long injury–he misses an open goal last time he plays and fans keep mentioning an untested Frimpong (pre-season does not count) out injured for a whole season who can really step up….My goodness! If it is so easy, our kids would have got a trophy in these 6 years.

    Now that Cesc has said that the team lacks leadership as well as mental strength (it seems only Wenger thinks they have it–but you can expect Arsene to say it. He won’t say otherwise), I wonder what the point is bringing in young players like Hazard, Sakho..who are mostly 23-24 yo like Cesc. If Cesc cannot lead the team to be tough, how can these players do it? They will be like Arshavin–when the going gets tough, they get going and disappear.

    I think the core problem is playing 4-3-3 or copying Barca when we don’t have the players for it. Even Barca lost to the banks of 5 Jose Mourinho last night. Barca’s underbelly is the same as Arsenal’s, the difference being that ours is exposed more often–almost every game.

    WE CANNOT achieve the level of Barca, not even 80% of it. With EPL teams more comfortable to play banks of 4..and referee more tolerant of fouls against Arsenal, this tactic is bound to end in failure.
    It does not matter if we play 4-4-2 or 4-3-3…we will most likely play the same way–pass/pass/pass…etc.

  22. Vote -1 Vote +1nycgunner

    Pretty much spot on as always Tim. It’s been a pretty exhausting season hasn’t it? I wont be as bitter about another trophy less season as I will be at the manner with which it was lost. How do we move forward from here? Changes are required, but how much? It’s usually not a good idea to make too many changes yet a message must be sent to the players. It’s impossible to predict right now exactly what the needs will be. Much of it depends on what happens with Cesc and Nasri. However even if we manage to keep them both, I would expect about 3 or 4 changes. If they both leave, we could see a lot more new players brought in. It will be a defining summer for us. One that will set the tone for the next few years. I would love to see a declaration of intent from the board.

    With regards to Wenger, and in particular, the substitutions, I was just as confused as some of the other posters on here. If I never see Bendtner on the wings again, it will be too many. Why don’t we play our players to their strength? RVP , I love him, but he can struggle to lead the line sometimes when facing defenders who are both physical and technical. With Bendtner on the field, we should have switched formation and gone 442. At least then you can start putting in crosses in the box and you can hope that the Dane will win a couple of them and create chances for RVP behind him or put one in himself. I don’t understand Wenger’s absolute REFUSAL to use the 442 these days – as though we have never won a game with that set up. I understand the 442 is a dying concept, but FFS with 10 mins to go and tired legs in defense, change things around a little.

    The season is all but done. If, by some miracle, Utd doesn’t win, we have a slight edge over Chelsea as we play Utd at home and Chelsea plays them at OT. That’s just in theory though, because a quick look at our home form tells me otherwise. Like I said, will not be bitter about not winning a trophy but these cock-ups, that are turning us into a bit of a laughing stock, needs to addressed immediately.

  23. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1nycgunner

    The other thing is.. most of our defensive fuck ups are just due to our mentality and not because of our ability. So hearing Arsene applaud our mental strength is part disturbing, part annoying and part funny, I sincerely hope it’s because he is trying to prevent our players from diving into the vortex of mental breakdown and not because he actually believes it. We are missing confidence and while you can’t drill it into them you can surely teach them to focus on their defensive duties?

  24. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    I just watched a ‘great’ exhibition of attacking football from a team in red and white with quick passing in triangles, sharp movement off the ball, young players flourishing, forwards pressing the opponents back line, scoring 4 goals including an 18yo scoring the goal of the season, an athletic GK making incredible saves to preserve his clean sheet and Thierry Henry scoring 2 goals including a his 2nd header in a week. Yes, I’m talking about the NY Red Bulls bulldozing DC United. Arsenal could learn a thing or two from them at this point.

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